Losing a dog to bone cancer (Osteosarcoma)


I wanted to do a series of posts addressing very common dog diseases/ailments. We’ve lost 3 dogs to these and I’m always left questioning if I could have done something different, better, or something to have kept these loves of my life around longer. The answer is mostly no, bloat being the possible exception. After having just lost a dog to bone cancer, we were shocked at the speed with which this disease wreaks havoc on it’s victim.

Our Dane’s age was a guesstimate. He could have been between 6-9yrs old as we adopted him from the RMGDR and his past was rather checkered. Mostly a senior regardless. He was in great health by all accounts.

In Jan of this year, we returned from our holiday vacation to our Dane acting completely different than when we left him. Everything about his behavior was so drastically different and he was making whining noises when his head/neck area was strained. Honestly we believed there was some hidden altercation between him and our pet sitter. I’d asked our pet sitter if anything had happened. He said no and that he just noticed that the last couple days he’d come over the Dane, Norman, wasn’t acting himself.

We ended up going to the vet and putting him on Rimadyl and a new allergy medicine Apoquel, which as a side note if your dog has allergies, get this, it’s amazing! So the Rimadyl definitely made him feel better, so we mostly got our dog, as we knew him, back. We let the Rimadyl lapse occasionally, hoping that maybe whatever was bothering him was better. It never was. On one long span between vet visits/Rimadyl prescriptions, Norman’s face swelled up. He had runny eyes and nose, yet the top of his nose was dry. After going back to the vet, we re upped the Rimadyl, allergy meds, eye drops etc. He looked and felt better shortly thereafter. We had basically resolved to have a crazy expensive Rimadyl habit.

After months of Norman being relatively normal, about the end of April/beg of May, we noticed his face swelling again along with the nose and eye ish. After some internetting we decided it was from him getting into the chrysanthemums out front. They are poisonous to dogs. So we started giving him Benedryl to help with the reaction. It wasn’t getting better and he started having colored discharge from his eyes and nose. This became compounded by his front feet knuckling under when he tried to walk. By the time we finally took him into the vet, he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything in two days and now couldn’t stand on his own. See for symptoms http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Health/Osteosarcoma/Symptoms.aspx.

We were thinking it sounded like a reaction to the Rimadyl. Rimadyl really is terrible for your pet. We were going to try putting him on cannabis oil, but alas never got around to it. The vet had a few theories that he tested his way through. The xray of Norman’s, now missing, jaw bone told everyone is was bone cancer. It had clearly metastasized to the point of his not being able to eat, drink or walk. Our vet said we could try steroids like Prednisone and see if it would buy us some time. Joseph and I decided that it was best for everyone to put Norman down. When we went to spend time with him before, he wagged his tail when we walked in, but that was about all the movement he could muster. We knew we were doing the right thing.

After researching bone cancer in dogs, it seems to love our favorite breeds, German Shepards, Danes, Dobermans, often dogs over 90lbs and it’s so fast moving. Apparently 5mo is the general life expectancy if caught early. I guess we should be happy we got what time we did with him. I wish it were somehow enough. I wish that I didn’t feel that I could have done more. If you’ve lost a dog to this or are in the throes of it, I’m so so sorry. It’s a painful way to go, for everyone. Apparently if it affects an appendage, it can be removed and the dog might go on to live a great life. Unfortunately for a senior Dane, with the cancer in places that can’t be removed, it was a death sentence.

posted under Misc, Other pets/animals

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